57: Wisdom and advice on the business of art with Hannah Cole and Kitty Dinshaw

A lot of us like to think about art as being distinct from the corporate, 9-to-5 world, but we also know that being an artist means essentially running your own small business. On today’s episode, I got to talk to two art business professionals who are also moms, Hannah Cole and Kitty Dinshaw, about the in and outs (and the unknowns) of the business side of art. 

Hannah is a long-time artist who became a tax professional after realizing how crucial business know-how is to a successful arts career. She is a multitasking, many-hat-wearing artist/mother who writes a Hyperallergic tax and money column while also running Sunlight Tax, a finance firm specifically dedicated to helping artists and freelancers. Hannah knows the unique financial challenges of being an artist and wants to help others ensure their practices are economically sustainable through customizable services and financial education. 

Kitty is the Co-Curator and Artist Director of Subject Matter Art Ltd, an entirely online gallery. Subject Matter Art is a woman-powered operation that encourages new collectorship in order to both better support individual artists and show prospective buyers that you can own art on any budget. With Subject Matter Director and Co-Curator Liezel Strauss, Kitty pioneered a series of lectures at the Royal College of Arts in London to educate students about the business of art.

Together, the three of us talk about the necessity of financial education for artists. Hannah and Kitty answer some essential questions (Can artists pay themselves a paycheck? When should you outsource work to a paid professional? Which personal finance book is the best (Hannah’s recommendation)? Should you be paying galleries to represent you? Big hint for the last question: no!) and tell me about the nuts and bolts of running a small creative business including building equity, bookkeeping software, and more. We discuss the significance of unlearning narratives about ourselves as artists that stand in the way of our financial success, and, perhaps most importantly of all, the imperative of knowing our worth. Last but not least, we talk “talking money” with our kids, and I get Hannah and Kitty to each answer the famous “final 5.”

To see Hannah Cole’s art, visit her website or follow her @hannah.cole.painter (she drops special tax tips on this account on Mondays!). You can find her professional tax services including a tax bootcamp, workshops, and additional resources at Sunlight Tax

Have a question about Subject Matter or economic transparency in the artworld? You can reach Kitty Dinshaw at kitty@subjectmatterart.com. Stay up to date with Subject Matter Art through their website or @subjectmatterart.
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn.

Kitty sharing in a curatorial tour
Kitty’s family
Installation from an exhibition Subject Matter curated in 2018 which highlighted the work of 15 female artists (l – r, Caroline Fraser, Camilla Bliss, and Nabeeha Mohamad)
Installation of Hannah’s work
Hannah’s family
Hannah’s painting

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